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Migrants aboard the Ocean Viking vessel seeking safe harbour Migrants aboard the Ocean Viking vessel seeking safe harbour  (ANSA)

Boat carrying migrants capsizes off the coast of Dakhla, Morocco

A non-governmental organization working to support the rights of migrants in border areas of western Europe and Africa sounds the alarm of a shipwreck on Friday of a boat heading to the Canary Islands. Over 40 are missing and ten have been rescued.

By Adriana Masotti - Vatican City

A boat has capsized off the coast of Dakhla in the Western Sahara region. Dozens are missing and feared dead . Caminando Fronteras, an NGO specializing in migration on the Africa-Canary Islands route, sounded the alarm. According to the NGO, the victims as of Saturday are 42: 30 women, four men and eight minors, while fishermen rescued ten others before the intervention of the Moroccan navy. A local news website, Dakhlanews, reported the discovery on Friday of twelve bodies found on a beach, possibly of migrants who died in the shipwreck.

Boat capsizes when hit by waves

The spokeswoman and founder of Caminando Fronteras, Helena Maleno, told the Italian news agency ANSA that her organization has tracked down the survivors and that through their testimonies it was possible to reconstruct the dynamics of the tragedy and the number of missing people. The boat on which they were traveling, bound for the Canary Islands, was likely hit by a large wave. In order to save those on board, fishermen onsite provided help and alerted the authorities. From Morocco and Spain, however, there is currently no official confirmation of the incident. Spokeswoman Maleno said, "This is a conflict zone, many of the shipwrecks that result there are not reported."

Emergency search continues

The latest tragedy is the second reported this week, after a boat sank on Wednesday with 75 migrants on board, three of whom died.

Meanwhile, the Spanish Maritime Rescue Service has activated searches for another boat with migrants, which reportedly set sail last Monday from the same area of Western Sahara.

According to the Spanish government, over 7,500 migrants have reached Spain's Canary Islands from Western Africa so far this year. The NGO Caminando Fronteras estimates over two thousand have died or disappeared during the same period attempting to make the dangerous journey that takes them into high seas.

07 August 2021, 14:26